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David was in third grade when he shared, “something must be wrong with me…. It must be mom.” I held my breath and he continued, “Every time when I think I am doing things right, I end up been wrong.” No matter how much I affirmed or prayed for him, it wasn’t changing that feeling. As a mother, I wanted to remove that pain instantly, right?!

Then, he started to compare with others and realized that he truly was doing things wrong because he compared himself with the world’s “correct and perfect standards.” He thought,  “they must be right and I must be wrong.” He held that feeling of guilt, it stuck in his head and heart for years. He felt incompetence when he compared himself with others; shame when he felt broken; and guilt when he felt not enough. It was a cloud over him wherever he went.

He was in special education class. He was “mentally different” according to the system’s report. He had the profile to be labeled as less, wrong, not enough. However, I resisted and started writing in his heart a different report. This one was signed by love, braveness, worthiness, acceptance, forgiveness, and resilience. According to the experts, no matter how great his efforts, he won’t measure up. He didn’t produce enough; his test scores weren’t average enough. When he did produce on one of his special topics; even this was not acceptable. But I knew; he was always good enough in my heart, and soon he’d feel it in his own.

David is 16 now and working extremely hard to get into college. He is amazingly excited and thankful because he was given the opportunity to start a speech and debate club for the first time at his high school. Now, he will be that bridge to those who didn’t believe their voices matter. He resisted shame, guilt, feelings of incompetence, and the feeling of not being worthy enough by standing for his values and his identity. He embraces where he belongs. He belongs to his family and to the destiny that God wrote for him. He said, “I believe that my value comes from where I belong and who knows me. “

You can’t get to that place with standardized intellectual levels or by achieving good grades, even by being accepted to a prestige college. You get there by truly understanding what is temporary and what is permanent in life.

David said, “I have grown so much more by embracing my belonging then anything that this standardized world can offer me. I will resist and I will be patient, no matter how long it will take me. I will not give up. I believe that I have a destiny, dreams, and a purpose because I belong here!!”

As a mother, when you see that your children are struggling with so many deficiencies and challenges, you know the work will be exhausting, but nothing is more incredible then being of service to our children in creating their bridge to their destiny.

My daughter who is seven and also autistic once told me, “Forgive your kids and forgive yourself.” She said, “Just talk to them and if they don’t listen, talk to them again …but don’t hurt them. “ She was giving me the tools be a mom who is patient and kind with my words, the courage to reconcile with our true identity.

Sonia Rivera

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